Notes on Eating

 When you cook for a family it is easy to get into a rut with your menus. Pleasing everyone isn't always easy especially when they are way past the 'eat it all up or there'll be no pudding' stage (there rarely is pudding these days). We've got into a rut so I'm making an effort to try some new ideas out on my family and to not fall back on the old favourites too often. I'm searching for new favourites. I'm pulling my many cookbooks off the shelves and looking for inspiration. I'm consulting my Pinterest food boards, I'm typing lists of ingredients into google to see what comes up, and I'm food shopping.

A trip to Whole Foods in Cheltenham last week with friends provided me with lots of inspiration. There were the delicious burritos we had for lunch stuffed with rice, black beans, shredded pork, vegetables, chilies, sour cream and cheese. They are sure to go down well with the teenagers and I will be making my own version soon. Then there were the free samples of salty-sweet popcorn which I will also be recreating at home. I tasted a green smoothie and found it to be unexpectedly delicious. I bought one to have at home for breakfast the next day and felt virtuous for the rest of the week. I'm seriously thinking of making my own green smoothies, just for me.

Green smoothie
Apple, kale, spinach, kiwi, banana, lemon and ginger




I'm doing something else in my quest for culinary inspiration. I've started a five year cook's diary. It most definitely isn't a food diary, those soul-destroying accounts of every calorie ingested. It's a record of what I cook each day (most days). Not just meals but baking and preserving as well. I'll be able to see if I was making quince jelly at the same time each year, when I cooked the first asparagus of the year, or the first forced rhubarb as well as how often we end up having the same things over and over.

I haven't made any firm menu plans for the next few days. Instead I have grouped ingredients I think will work well together and we'll see what happens.

Smoked haddock, leeks, cheddar, cream, crusty white bread

Butternut squash, mozzarella, slow cooked onions, kale

Minced lamb, za'atar, smoked hummus, chickpeas, flat bread, mint, yogurt

Cod, lentils, bacon, mash

Sweet potato, curry paste, coconut milk

Forced rhubarb, cream, ginger


As for tonight's meal - spaghetti bolognese. Apparently one of the most commonly eaten family meals in the country according to The Daily Mail. We have it rarely, honest gov, so it's a bit of a treat in our house, also I don't read The Daily Mail except by accident.










Comments

  1. You're making me hungry again!

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  2. Love the cook's diary, it will no doubt be a good reminder of some things you've enjoyed. I always mean to be more organised when it comes to meals, planning in advance etc. but I usually end up peering blankly in the fridge at 4.30, waiting for inspiration. The green smoothie sounds good, I shall try and remember to visit Whole Foods next time I'm in Cheltenham.

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  3. Unfortunately an online recipe for Spaghetti Cork-ese proved to be the ruin of a fine lump of black pudding last night and there is enough leftover to last for days. Yeeugh, you can go too far in the search for novelty.

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    1. Oh good lord! Some mash and apple sauce might perhaps have been a better idea.

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  4. Love the green colour of that smoothie, that has got to be good for body and soul! Baked beans, yay, that is what I am making my picky little sprogs (and non-picky adults) tonight with home-made bread. Smiles for dinner.

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  5. I've made a note of some of those ingredient combinations and I'm now inspired having fallen into a cooking rut of late.

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  6. Anonymous5:23 pm GMT

    The only version of salty sweet popcorn I had made me feel really rather ill. Very nasty. I've noticed it a combination creeping in to quite a few thing - brownies being one example. That's fine except it is chasing out the usual versions, so no usual nut brownie at the food market just a salted caramel version. I want salt, or sugar not both. Otherwise it reminds me of that stuff you take for an upset stomach. I know salt can bring out flavour but just a pinch not something that sets up in opposition to the sweet.

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    1. It is a madly trendy flavour combination it's true. Luckily it's one we all enjoy.

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    2. I am in love with salted caramel things. And salted chocolate, good lord - that stuff is delicious! The dark Lindt with sea salt is my favourite. Hotel Chocolat also do some madly scrummy salted caramelised almonds smothered in chocolate, if you are ever passing.

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  7. Anonymous6:23 pm GMT

    hi what is zaater ? never heared of that I love the idea of the diary to see what you did last year i do similar but with sale dates.That green liquid looks far from delicious but am tempted to try now.
    good luck with your culinary search for more niceness
    tess

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    1. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend.

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  8. I love your ingredient groupings. Please could you follow up with what you turned them into?

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  9. You truly are inspiring Sue with your fabulous meals and delicious recipes, I am sure your cooks diary will create fond memories for you and it will be fun to see how your choices change. Your comment about the Daily Mail made me smile :o)

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  10. Made me so hungry. It all sounds delicious. I'm feeling so poorly and not in the mood for cooking at all. Perhaps I need some of the green stuff! x

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  11. Oh, I love the idea of the meals diary. And the stuff you'll be eating over the next week looks lovely too... I'm inspired to keep looking for new recipes and to try them out.
    I wish we had a Whole Foods nearby. There's the 8th Day in Manchester which is great but still a bit of an expedition with a little one in tow.
    As for the Daily Mail - I don't know who can regularly read that (or the Express for that matter) without holing up in their cellar in a state of utter paranoia, waiting for the world to come to it's imminent end!

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  12. I love the idea of the cooks notes and it will be fun no doubt to compare things as you said such as when you are dealing with your quinces and what you make each year! Lots of fun for you there Sue! xx

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  13. What about a smoked haddock leek and tattie soup (with plenty of cream)? I am hungry just thinking of it. I feel inspired by your groupings, such a good idea to plan a meal. It reminds me of ready-steady-cook but with great ingredients.

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  14. My family like unusual pizzas - well, unusual by regular standards. Sweet potato was tasty. I try to have a soup once a fortnight. My local library has a really good cooking selection. Recording food journeys sounds interesting. I often hunger for fruits that are out of season so reading what was done the previous year might help.

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    1. I'm thinking of pizza for my squash.

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  15. My goal is to try a Pinterest meal at least once a month. This Sunday it was Pork Carnitas, and for once it was even better than advertised. The family already wants to know when we can have it again.

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  16. I'm forced out of my usual cooking rut because I am trying to use up as many home grown courgettes as I can in new and tasty ways! I have courgettes because I live in New Zealand by the way.... Tonight is mr Hugh F-W's courgette and rice filo pie....apparently the rice absorbs the courgette liquid. We shall see!

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    1. Sarah, H F-W has a really good courgette pasta sauce where they are cooked slowly until they melt into a sauce. It's in my recipe index. Gluts of fresh produce do make for more creative meals don't they?

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    2. I so agree. Growing my own veg and having fruit trees has revolutionised my life and the way I cook. I'll certainly seek out your index for the pasta sauce recipe. Thanks!

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  17. On Sports Bake-Off the other evening, one of the bakers referred to their attempt at green icing as 'going for Shrek's bottom' - which is exactly what I thought of when I saw your picture here! (We're big Shrek fans in this house...)

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  18. Yes! I've been doing exactly the same recently! I always (very nearly) cook from scratch but really need new recipes. I usually cook 'off piste', as my friend calls it, with variable results, so am trying to collate a different range of 'proper' recipes. I usually write a menu plan each week to help with ideas and shopping and have thought about keeping them, like your diary. I like that idea, with the preserves n all (Seville marmalade, of course, this week). Can be tricky to find decent recipes as we're vegetarian. Burritos are great. We had them on the hoof last month; definitely one to recreate. I make soups a lot and enjoy them. Looking forward to further installments! Jen

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  19. I have just looked at where Whole Foods Cheltenham is, having never heard of it before. I am off to Cheltenham today so will check it out.
    This is the first time I have seen your inspiring blog.

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  20. Ah, the Daily Fail. I don't read it on purpose, either!

    I do love a good spaghetti bolognese, though, but it has to be a good one. No Dolmio in my house! Soffrito, softened, then add pancetta and brown, then 50/50 pork/beef mince, brown. Add one of those Knorr beef stock pots, a good squeeze of tomato puree and a big glass of red wine, and let the red wine cook off. Then, throw in a couple of bayleaves, some dried rosemary and oregano (maybe a weeny bit of dried chilli flakes) and a couple of rubs of nutmeg over the grater, and finally crushed tomatoes and passata. Let it simmer away for at least an hour, adding a bit more passata if it gets too dry. Mmmm.

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  21. Hi Sue,
    Have you come across the Eat Your Books website? I joined after seeing it featured in a Jamie magazine last year. Basically, once you become a member, you list all of your cookbooks and you are then able to search the index by recipe or ingredient. I find it great if I have something I need to use up, but not really sure where to start looking. So I could put in bananas and chocolate, and up would come a list of all the recipes that include those ingredients, plus which book they are in.
    It's brilliant. It costs just under three pounds a month to be a member, but I have used books that haven't been opened since the first reading!
    They also have features, reviews and blogs. I have found it really useful.
    Enjoy having a browse, even if you decide its not for you!

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    1. Thanks Jackie, I have heard of Eat Your Books and it does sound like a good idea but I'm not sure I'd want to pay for it. I'll have a look though.

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  22. I like the idea of keeping a food diary over multiple years like that - in fact I might just start one :)

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  23. I've been keeping a computer record of meals (and cakes) for nearly two years. I also record where the recipe is - cookery book, internet, magazine, scrap of paper! It only takes a few seconds and I use it a lot for inspiration - either looking back to this time last year to see if there are any recipes I've forgotten or using the "find" function to look for recipes with a particular ingredient. Earlier today I looked for leek recipes to use up some leeks bought at the weekend and "found" a magazine recipe for a potato, leek and bacon bake - so that's what we are having tonight!

    I'm looking forward to seeing how your meal ideas work out - especially the smoked haddock and leeks!

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  24. I think Nancy writes all her meals in a notebook and has years and years of them to look back on. My children would eat spag blog everyday if they got their own way............

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  25. What an interesting idea. So easy to get bogged down cooking the same old same old ... Your list of ingredients suggests to me, smoked haddock chowder, roast butternut squash risotto, lamb patties and Morroco-ian sort of meal, roast cod on bed of lentils with trimmings, curry and ice cream. It would be good if you could let us know what you decided to cook

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  26. Did this just eat my comment, or am I posting twice? That is the question. I think Book Depository should pay you a commission, because I am just about to buy another one for the sole reason you have it and I think it's a fabulous idea. Wish I'd done something similar with the kids' one I saw online when mine were little - that would have been brilliant to look back on. I was kind of busy changing nappies and not getting sleep at the time.

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